They have always been there, of course, but over the last few months the “personal narrative” has become increasingly prominent in political reporting, particularly in USA. Squeezed between ‘style and substance’, or is it ‘policies and personality’, there is the narrative, the story.
You have McCain’s narrative of five years as tortured prisoner, Obama’s humble mixed race background and, most tellingly, Sarah Palin’s story, already several novels’ worth. In terms of coverage these stories are creating more attention than the policies, perhaps because they are more interesting ?
Apparently the Republican and Democrat campaign managers are finding it harder than ever to control their messaging where the free for all blogger environment is reducing the effectiveness of paid air-time. One tactic is to create controversial television commrecials but rather than air them commercially, rely on news and blogging ‘channels’, which prefer stories, to do the distribution job.
There is nothing new in this. The famous “Labour isn’t working ” poster, created by Saatchis some thirty years ago, ran for a few weeks only, on a dozen poster sites. It became the story. Picked up by all the news media, long before blogging, its impact on the election was immeasurable.
In any pitch storytelling compels.